When Gilbert Perez and partner Nick Eronko saw a for-sale sign covered by a tree for the house on the corner of Tulane Street and West 11th Street that they had always admired, they decided to take a chance on its potential. Perez said he knew the home would require a lot of work. He just didn’t realize how much.
Once work got underway at the home, which would be the future site of both Bungalow Revival, a boutique remodeling and renovation company, and Bespoke, Perez’s interior design and home décor store currently at 238 W. 19th St., the full extent of the neglect was revealed.
“I knew it was in bad shape,” Perez said. “But it was sad to see how bad it was.”
The house was built in 1920 as a single-family home and then became a duplex in the late 1930s, at which time an addition was added to the downstairs portion of the house. Perez moved to the area in 1996 and remembers seeing the house used as a lawn mower repair business.
“The front door was for the business and there were two side doors, one for storage and one for the apartment,” Perez said. “Plus, there was another apartment upstairs.”
When Perez bought the home, the downstairs had been abandoned for some time and the upstairs was leased out.
Perez said the interior was in worse shape than the exterior, with leaks in the wall and the accompanying mold and mildew. After an engineer gave Perez a full accounting of the termite and rot damage throughout, it was determined that the first order of business was to give the home a secure skeleton for the continuing work.
“There were so many repairs done that were Band-Aids through the years,” he said. “The house had settled, but they didn’t fix the foundation. There was serious damage to the roof.”
Now Perez says that they are about 25 percent into the project, which he initially estimated would take about eight months to complete. The structural repairs added about $40,000 to the existing budget. Because of COVID-19, the work is slower going because of permitting delays and limiting workers onsite.
“I don’t want to have more than one crew on at a time,” Perez said. “We’re working from the inside out, [but we’re] sensitive to how the house looks on the outside so we’re focusing on that now.”
One project Perez is excited about is the creation of a 20 x 20 mini-park in front of the house, complete with planters, park benches and old-fashioned street lights.
“We want to encourage pedestrians,” he said.
Ironically, although everything north is in a protected historic district, Perez said his house is not. That doesn’t mean that he is not taking the home’s history – and its Foursquare Arts & Crafts style – into account. He recently purchased some period antique stained class for the windows and is adding wood details to the brick columns to “finesse” the look of the house.
“Even [with] all the neglect it is a beautiful house,” he said.
While his initial plan was to have four office spaces downstairs – two of them for new tenants – with the upstairs reserved for residential, Perez is now planning to have his offices downstairs and live upstairs.
“I’m basically thinking long term,” he said.